WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO SCOTLAND.
Most Scottish customs revolve around having a good time, making them perfect additions to any trip to Scotland. Highland Games, featuring competitions like the tug of war, caber tossing, and hammer throwing, are held all over the country during the summer.
The first Highland Games were rumored to have taken place in Braemar, Royal Deeside, around 950 AD.
When the games are over, the Scots celebrate in the same way they do at every other major event: with a huge party featuring traditional Scottish dancing known as a ceilidh. These activities continue throughout the year, making them useful for combating cold weather. Many men in Scotland wear the kilt to formal events like ceilidhs.
Don’t worry if you don’t know how to do any of the traditional dances. The music group makes sure everyone is on the same page, and the Scots are always eager to lend a hand.
FOOD & DRINK WHEN YOU VISIT SCOTLAND
Traveling is all about experiencing new things, and a trip to Scotland should not be any different. Even though Scotland isn’t as well-known as other countries, its food supply is the envy of the globe. Scottish cuisine features a wide variety of delicious ingredients, from wild lobster and salmon to venison and grouse, as well as fresh vegetables and ripe fruits.
Among international audiences, haggis is undoubtedly the most well-recognized traditional Scottish food. However, not everyone is aware of its true nature, and many who are are still unwilling to give it a try. There is something they should be experiencing that they are not.
Ground sheep organs like heart and liver are combined with oats, suet, and spices to make haggis. When combined with mashed turnip and potatoes, the resulting mixture is known as “neeps & tatties” and is soft and slightly spicy.
LANGUAGE WHEN YOU VISIT SCOTLAND
Scots, English, Gaelic, and American Sign Language are the country’s four official languages, but few people know this. The meanings of “English” and “Sign Language” are obvious, but “Scots” and “Gaelic” are frequently misunderstood.
There has long been a schism in Scotland between the Gaelic-speaking Highlands and the Scots-speaking Lowlands. While visiting Scotland, many tourists put in a lot of time and effort to learn a few Gaelic phrases, even though only about 1% of the population actually speaks the language.
When Scotland was at its population peak, nearly everyone spoke Gaelic. Today, however, the only places where Gaelic is spoken are on the islands and in remote parts of the Highlands. People in Scotland aren’t just speaking English with a funny accent; the language is making a comeback, thanks in large part to popular TV shows like Outlander. Scots is a language with a long and illustrious history, but it is often overlooked.
TRAVELLING INSIDE SCOTLAND
When traveling around Scotland, you’ll quickly learn that just because a location appears close on a map doesn’t mean you’ll have a quick commute between stops. After leaving the main highways, many roads become much more winding and narrow. Be prepared to drive on narrow, winding roads once you reach the Highlands and Scottish Islands.
There’s only room for one car at a time, and there are a lot of blind corners, so be cautious. A breach of the local etiquette can result in strong displeasure on the part of the local populace.
Just stop at the next available passing spot and wait patiently for the oncoming vehicle to pass. If you are driving slowly to take in the view, but someone else is stuck behind you, you will have the same problem.
It doesn’t follow that you should never drive again and instead rely on public transportation. The best places to go are usually not the most obvious ones. In some cases, you won’t be able to take a bus to see the Stonehenge replica or the Castle Sween replica on the west coast.
Remember that driving is done on the left side of the road and fill up with gas whenever you can. There won’t be gas stations in all of the Highlands’ outlying settlements, and cell phone reception can be spotty at best.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
The best way to take in Scotland’s famous scenery isn’t while driving through the country. Scotland is all about getting out into nature, whether that means taking a stroll along the beach, meandering through the woods, or climbing to the summit of a mountain. The best part is that the normal rules against trespassing do not apply here.
The “Right to roam” in Scotland guarantees citizens the freedom to legally wander wherever they please. Hikers can cross hills, glens, and rivers without worrying about trespassing on private property or having a picnic in someone’s backyard.
It’s a must-have for anyone hoping to climb one of Scotland’s 282 Munros, or peaks higher than 3,000 meters.
“Wild camping” is included in the right to roam. Anyone can set up a small tent as long as they do so far from any major roads, structures, or historic sites. One of the most pleasant ways to begin the day is on a hilltop, surrounded by trees and with no other people in sight for miles.
WHEN TO VISIT SCOTLAND
Though the changing of the seasons can be unpredictable, there is never a bad time to visit Scotland. There are benefits and drawbacks to traveling at any time of year; it just depends on your itinerary.
Even though it’s impossible to predict when it will rain, summer is typically the driest season. Popular tourist destinations will likely be crowded, and midges, tiny insects known for their irritating bites, will likely be abundant in outdoor areas.
Thankfully, the midges and most of the tourists leave for warmer climes in the winter. The bad news is that most tourist spots, eateries, and hotels all shut down until spring.